I slept through the event that changed the world. I had just gotten off work at 8am, after working the graveyard shift and came right home and hit the hay. My sleep was restless that morning. I was never known for sleeping well in the daytime after a night shift, but this morning was particularly bad. Almost as if my subconscious was foretelling the evil that was about to happen in the world while I was sleeping.
I woke just before noon and as soon as I opened my eyes, I knew something was different. There was an eerie silence outside, the normal traffic sounds were nonexistent. In fact, I realized after a quick visual inspection, that there were no cars or people in sight at all. Even the birds were quiet that morning, as if they too were horrified about what had just happened. Looking back on it now, I realize how quickly the events that had just played out in the USA, had changed my small neighbourhood and with it, the rest of the world.
With Spidey senses tingling, I started the wheels in motion for my regular morning routine. After shower and a quick coffee, for some reason before I left to pick up my almost five year old son, I called a friend. It took an unexpected amount of time for the phone to be answered. The voice on the other end of the line was distracted and not the normal cheery and attentive one I had come to expect. The words I heard then took a moment to sink in.
” A 767 just flew into the north tower of the World Trade Centre in New York.”
They were all gathered together at work, watching the events unfold. Still half asleep, my thought was ‘Jeez, that sounds like a terrible accident.’
Then while I listened over the phone, my friends watched on live TV(and the rest of the world) as a plane appear out of the sky . It turned sharply towards the World Trade Centre and collided into South tower near the 60th floor. It was then that the world realized, that the United States of America was under attack.
Less than 15 minutes later, the south tower crumbled into a massive cloud of dust and debris, then shortly after that, the other collapsed. Next there was news of an airstrike at the Pentagon and then we were told of a fourth plane. It had been hijacked just outside of Newark airport, but had inexplicably crashed into a field in rural Pennsylvania. The world had gone… Stark. Raving. Mad.
“All airways over the Continental US are closed. Land ASAP at the nearest airport, advise your destination.”
Of the 240 flights that were grounded, 39 of those flights were rerouted to Gander, and a total of 6759 people were stranded in small town Newfoundland. Schools, churches, and other community buildings became temporary home to the trapped passengers. Radio Talk shows were used to rally up supplies, temporary housing and food.
The people of Gander and the rest of NL banded together to supply toothbrushes, blankets, pillows and other necessities for the bewildered passengers.Private homes in Gander and the rest of NL were quickly filled with strangers from all over the world.
Newfoundland became a temporary United Nations, as people from all religions and all walks of life, huddled together and waited for the return of some semblance of normal. Little did we know then, that normal would never be the same again.
In the years since September 11th, 2001, many things have changed; Airport security has taken a whole new meaning, and the world has also developed a growing intolerance towards immigrants and religious groups, especially those from the middle east. With the ever changing information highway, the ‘news’ is no longer something you watch on the television. It has become a real time experience, that is tweeted and FBed via social media, as world events unfold. I challenge people on this day to try to remember what things were like before, so we can appreciate how much they’ve changed. The world is still feeling the impact of what happened on 9/11, and it will go down in history as the day the world lost its innocence.
In all, nearly 3000, people with ages from 2-85 , were killed in less than two hours. While it may seem that we know all there is to know about the attacks that took place that day, on this anniversary, here are a few things you may not have known:
• While nearly 3,000 were killed, 20 people were pulled alive from the rubble beneath the collapsed Twin Towers buildings in New York City.
• 80 percent of the 2,977 victims were men.
• It took 99 days to completely extinguish the fires caused by the attacks in New York City.
• Roselle, a guide dog, lead her blind owner down 78 floors of the North Tower, saving them both.
• 144 wedding rings were found in the debris of the collapsed towers.
• On Sept. 11, 2001, up to 50,000 employees were employed in the Twin Towers, and another 40,000 passed through the complex on the way to their jobs in other parts of Manhattan.
• More than $100 million of art was lost in the collapse of the Twin Towers.
• Prior to the attack, five of the 9/11 hijackers stayed in a motel just outside the gates of the National Security Agency.
• It is believed that the passengers of Flight 93, the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania, took a vote to decide whether they would risk their lives to try to regain control of the plane.
• John Patrick O’Neill, an FBI agent in charge of investigating the first World Trade Center attack in 1993, was killed in the attacks on 9/11. He had left the FBI and was the new head of security at the World Trade Center.
• The National Reconnaissance Office had planned a training exercise for 9 a.m. on Sept. 11. The agency was going to practice what they would do if an aircraft were to crash into a building in Washington DC.
Afternote – The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (9/11 Commission), was formed in late 2002 to prepare a thorough account of the circumstances surrounding the attacks, including preparedness for and the immediate response to the attacks.On July 22, 2004, the Commission issued the 9/11 Commission Report. The report detailed the events of 9/11, found the attacks were carried out by members of AL-Qaeda, and examined how security and intelligence agencies were inadequately coordinated to prevent the attacks. Formed from an independent bipartisan group of mostly former Senators, Representatives, and Governors, the commissioners explained, “We believe the 9/11 attacks revealed four kinds of failures: in imagination, policy, capabilities, and management”. The Commission made numerous recommendations on how to prevent future attacks, and in 2011 was dismayed that several of its recommendations had yet to be implemented.
After Afternote– The Remarkable True Story Of The Small Town (Gander) That Welcomed The World was made into a Tony® And Olivier Award Winning Musical Sensation. Come From Away is truly something to be proud of.
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What are you memories of this day? Do you remember?